Why I interned at Amizade

by Daniel Alexander

Lucy Crelli, a recent undergraduate student of the Rhode Island School of Social Design, spent an insightful season interning in our headquarters in Pittsburgh. Before saying goodbye to the Amizade team to pursue new career challenges in Pakistan, Lucy wrote this blog to share impressions of her time serving and learning with us. Thanks for everything, Lucy!

When I returned to my hometown of Pittsburgh after I graduated college, I was disgruntled that I had to be relegated to a place as “uneventful” and “unexciting” as Pennsylvania. Although my college was in an even smaller city and state (Providence, Rhode Island), I believed that my personal growth and “worldliness” would be cut short primarily because of the location. How could I be a citizen of the world if I’m merely coming back home?

Fortunately, Amizade proved me wrong. They somehow manage to be connected with 12 countries, four continents, 16 partnerships, and 12,000+ participants with just a seven-person team. Not only that, but this tiny and powerful organization linked globally-engaged nonprofits all over Pittsburgh by creating the Global Switchboard, a single shared working space for a one-stop-shop for anything international. It turns out that I didn’t know my hometown as much as I had thought, and I wasn’t giving it the recognition that it deserved.

As a social designer, I apply creative problem-solving tactics to complex and systematic social issues. But because I am only one year into my career, I am still defining where and how my social design can be useful. Amizade caught my eye not just because I am very interested in cross-cultural learning and international relations, but also because they are innovators. Amizade broke new ground in the field of global education by pioneering the concept of Fair Trade Learning, because unfortunately equitable outcomes and symbiosis in service learning and international study are often overlooked. The Fair Trade Learning guidelines alone are a great example of social design, and thus I knew that Amizade was the perfect place for me to test the waters.

Once there, Amizade didn’t disappoint. There is always a feeling of enthusiasm and creativity in the office, and the team (and the rest of The Global Switchboard) ever made me feel welcome. I worked primarily with Daniel Alexander (Amizade’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator) and Sara Noel (Amizade’s former Assistant Director) to innovate upon their relationship with the group leaders, launch a new program called The Global Social Action Accelerator, design next year’s t-shirt, write blog posts, and begin drafting press releases for Amizade’s exciting upcoming programs. I was able to continually put to use my human-centered design skills in a context that impacted people even thousands of miles away, and I enjoyed the thrill of working in the midst of so many cultural influences.

Lucy and Amizade’s Education Director Bibi Al-Ebrahim taking a break from work together and watching the 2018 World Cup at the office

Now, Amizade has helped to launch me to the next step in my career process. I will be spending three months in Pakistan working with a Pakistani design strategy firm on a project that investigates women’s use of abortion as contraception. Using human-centered design, we will spend a long time doing field research and will then develop and prototype a solution to a specific issue that we uncover during our study. With the presence of international affairs, issues of gender equity, and social design (not to mention connections that Amizade has in Pakistan), I am beyond excited to now apply my skills in an entirely new context and comfort zone.

I can no longer blame Pittsburgh for inhibiting my so-called worldliness because Amizade very quickly proved me wrong. I needed only to look harder, expand my definition of worldliness, and embrace my roots. Pakistan may be the next stop for me on my journey, but I know that I will remain connected with Amizade no matter where I go.

Interested in interning with Amizade? Please feel free to contact us.

You can help Lucy with her journey to Pakistan. Support her project by making a donation on her GoFund Me page!